So, you have the enthusiasm and drive to dive into the market of becoming a crossword puzzle creator, but you’re not sure where you can submit your creations and get paid well? Of course, you could simply submit your work to your local newspaper or community magazine, but why not strive higher? We’ve dug into this behind-the-scenes information for you and developed quite a list of publications that are eager to accept and review your works of art - and some will even pay top dollar! The list below will include general information about where and how to submit your work to each publication, as well as general information on their guidelines and payment rates. You may want to conduct your own research to find more detailed information regarding each of these publications requirements and guidelines.
Submitting Crosswords to The New York Times
The New York Times is always looking for well-constructed crossword puzzles to place in their daily and Sunday paper circulations. Being a large, well-known publication, they also pay quite well, however they do also have rather strict standards and guidelines that puzzle constructors should keep in mind before submitting their work to this newspaper. Your puzzles should contain answers with 3 or more letters, however, the while the use of 3-letter words are acceptable, keep these short words to a minimum. The puzzle submissions also must be symmetrical and not contain partial phrases that are more than 5-letters long. Additionally, if your puzzle includes a theme, it should be an interesting and narrowly defined one that applies throughout the entire puzzle on a constant basis. Clues should be well-balanced and test the solver’s vocabulary and knowledge.
The New York Times accepts puzzles for their daily 15x15 square puzzle, their Sunday 21x21 square puzzle, their Sunday 23x23 square puzzle, as well as diagramless 17x17 puzzles. Each puzzle contains a different maximum word count. For puzzles that are 15x15, they need to contain 78-words or less, however if the puzzle is unthemed, it should contain a maximum of 72-words. Puzzles that are 21x21 should contain up to 140 words, and puzzles that are 23x23 should contain up to 170-words.
The payment of each type of puzzle submissions vary
- Daily 15x15 puzzles - $200
- Sunday 21x21 puzzles - $1,000
- Sunday 23x23 puzzles - $1,000
- Diagramless 17x17 puzzles - $150
- Novelty Puzzles - $200 depending upon the type of puzzle
It is also important to remember that the New York Times purchases all rights of puzzle submissions that are paid for and used in their circulation, including first rights. This simply means that a puzzle that has been submitted to them to be used in their circulation cannot have ever been published anywhere else, including in print and online.
How To Submit
You can submit your puzzle directly to Will Shortz at the following address. Remember to include with your submission an e-mail address or self-addressed stamped envelope so that you can receive a response. An e-mail address is preferred.
Will Shortz, Crossword Editor
The New York Times
620 8th Ave.
New York, NY 10018
Submitting Crosswords to the L.A. Times
When considering to submit your puzzle work to the L.A. Times, keep the following information in mind.
- Daily puzzle sizes are 15x15, containing a maximum of 78 words with 43 black squares or less
- Sunday puzzle sizes are 21x21, containing a maximum of 144 words. There are no maximum black square requirements to follow, however 80 black squares or more may or may not be accepted.
- Saturday puzzle sizes are 15x15, containing a maximum of 72 words
- Words must interlock throughout the entire puzzle.
- Grid patterns must be symmetrical. Rotational symmetry is the most common, however right-left symmetry is also acceptable. Additionally, asymmetrical puzzles may be considered if it is theme related.
- Do not use numbers or symbols
- Only use letters from A to Z, and only allow for one letter per box.
- Roman Numerals are acceptable, however do not substitute letters for numbers, or vice versa, for any other reason
- Partial clues are acceptable, but keep it at a minimum
- Do not use 2-letter words
- Keep 3-letter words at a minimum
- Do not make up phrases
- Do not use graphic medical entries or terms
- When using foreign words, brand names, or abbreviations, only use well-known words or brands, and keep it at a minimum
Payment and How to Submit
The L.A. Times will only accept submissions sent via email. Any submissions sent by postal mail will be returned. You can send your submission or query to email@example.com. Puzzles are edited three months before they are published and entered into circulation. Please allow 3 to 8 weeks for a response to new submissions, and 1 to 2 weeks for revision submissions.
Payment is determined by which paper the puzzle is published in. Submissions for the daily paper are paid $85. Submissions for the Sunday paper are paid $250.
Submitting Crosswords to GAMES Magazine
Many great crossword puzzle constructors start out their career creating puzzles for smaller publications, such as GAMES Magazine. GAMES may not have the large budget that other popular publications have, however, this magazine also offers a constructor a little more flexibility to use their imagination while creating great puzzles. Below are a list of general guidelines, common rules to follow, as well as payment options available. It is strongly advised, though, to review their full list of specific guidelines prior to submitting your work of art.
- For 15x15 sized puzzles, the maximum word count should be about 78 words with less than 38 black squares
- For 17x17 sized puzzles, the maximum word count should be about 98 words with less than 50 black squares
- For 21x21 sized puzzles, the maximum word count should be about 140 words with less than 74 black squares
- Other sizes other than those mentioned may be considered
General Rules to Follow
- Construct puzzles with symmetrical patterns that include interlocking words throughout the puzzle
- Do not use unchecked letters
- Do not use 2-letter words
- Do not use repetitive words in the diagram
- Do not use offensive words or words that suggest disease or death
- The use of abbreviations and cliches are okay if kept at a minimum
- Refrain from using contrived phrases unless you are able to provide a context
- Refrain from using variations to spelling and unfamiliar abbreviations
While GAMES Magazine may not have the largest budget, they still pay quite well for carefully constructed crosswords. Puzzles of 15x15 in size are paid $50. Puzzles of 17x17 in size are paid $100. Puzzles of 21x21 in size are paid $200.
How to Submit
GAMES Magazine offers two ways to submit your puzzle creations to their editing department: by postal mail or by e-mail. If you choose to submit your puzzle via e-mail, they should be submitted in a Crossword Compiler format and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To submit your creation via postal mail, send it to the following address. Your submission should include your name, mailing address, and a suggested title. In addition, your submission should include a fully filled-in, numbered grid and each answer should be listed to the right of the clue.
Crossword Editor, GAMES Magazine
P. O. Box 184
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Submitting Crosswords to Crossword Club
Crossword Club is another great outlet to get your crosswords published. Typically, they only publish crosswords that are 21x21 in size that have a difficulty range between medium and hard. While they may not offer as much flexibility as GAMES when it comes to imaginative puzzles, they do pay quite well. Here are some key guidelines you should remember when creating a crossword to submit to this publication.
- Refrain from wordplay that is not related to the theme or that is not used throughout the puzzle consistently
- Refrain from using themes or theme answers that require special knowledge, unless you provide references. Even then, this should be kept at a minimum.
- If you use brand names or locations, be sure they are nationally well-known
- Refrain from using the same word or rhyming words
- Refrain from overusing themes
- Refrain from using unusual words
- Refrain from referring to sex, drugs, disease, and death
- Refrain from using Crosswordese
If you are unsure about a theme idea, you are encouraged to submit a query first, prior to constructing the puzzle. When submitting a theme query, be sure to provide the title, theme entries, and theme clues for the editor to review. These queries take top priority.
Crossword Club pays $300 for a 21x21 puzzle that includes a maximum of 144 entries. This payment covers all rights of the puzzle in all media outlets. This simply means that the puzzle they purchase from you can not be published anywhere else, either online or in print.
How to Submit
Crossword Club offers two ways for constructors to submit their work: either by postal mail, or by e-mail. If you choose to submit by e-mail, be sure that you are using Crossword Compiler for Windows Version 6 or lower, or a format that is supported by this program such as Crossdown. If using CCW, in the Crossword Information section, place your name in the Author field, then place your address and Social Security Number in the Description field. Additionally, make the Clue Properties right-aligned and deselect the “with period” field. Once this is complete, you can send your e-mail submission to email@example.com.
If you choose to submit your work via postal mail, be sure to include your title, name, address, and Social Security Number at the top. From there, you should use a columnar format that includes the clue number, clue answer, and answer on each double-spaced line. Submitting your puzzle via postal mail does not require you to include a solving grid. Submit your puzzle to the following address:
15063 Miami Rd.
Apple Valley, CA 92307
Keep in mind that if you are submitting a special themed puzzle, such as one for a holiday or special occasion, they should be submitted 6 months in advance. Additionally, the submission should include a note that states the enclosed submission contains seasonal material.
As you can see, there are many publications across the United States that are eager to receive and review your puzzle submissions. And the list doesn’t stop here! In fact, there are many other publications that you can submit your works of art to. For additional publication listings and information about their submission specifications, it is advised that you visit the Cruciverb website. This site has made it incredibly easy to find publications that include crossword puzzles in their subscriptions that are willing to give a freelance puzzle constructor a shot at the big-time, as well as a taste of a good payday!